Best Hair Gel Guide for All Hair Types

All Things Hair | 27 April 2016

Learn more about gel in our ultimate guide to this hair care product.

Hair gel is having a major moment in hair right now. As one of the OG hair care products, it’s certainly been around for a long time but has seen a resurgence with the wet look hairstyles that have dominated the runway the past few seasons. And while the best hair gel is out there in your drugstore, you also have to consider what hair gel to get that’s based on your hair type and what type of hold you are looking for. To help you out, we’re sharing a list of some of the best hair styling gel products that you can easily find at your local drugstore.

Good Hair Gel for Each Hair Type

best hair gel to create a shag
Gel helps define the details on medium-length styles like the shag, while also helping retain its shape throughout the day. Photo credit:

1. Straight and Fine Hair

Thinner locks crave volume, so make sure to use products that don’t weigh your hair down or leave them prone to going limp midday. Lightweight styling gels, such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Diametress Lavish Body Gel Spray, are a fun, useful innovation, since most of these coat hair strands evenly while providing some bounce.

2. Straight and Thick Hair

Looking for the strongest hair gel for your thick hair? Thicker hair is fortunate enough to be able to withstand more styling wear and tear, but then can also be prone to dullness and unmanageability. Take control of your hair type’s density with a gel that adds lightweight shine and smoothness, like TRESemmé TRES Two Mega Firm Control Gel, which also gives you the super-firm control you’ll need without sacrificing body.

3. Wavy Hair

Frizz is public enemy number one for ladies who have naturally wavy hair. The best hair gel for this type is one that both shields from humidity and enhances your natural texture—this is your golden unicorn of hair products. An alcohol-free formulation that locks out frizz, such as TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Gel, is ideal for giving moveable but long-lasting hold, a.k.a. the best control for wavy looks.

best hair gel on natural hair
Tame cowlicks and frizzies on curly or natural-textured hair with some medium-hold gel. Photo credit:

4. Curly and Thick or Texturized

Products that have moisturizing or conditioning properties, beat frizz and keep your coils soft without flattening them out are your best bet. A hair gel that provides medium-to-firm control in a serum-gel formulation, such as Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Curl Defining Soft & Defined Curls Gel Serum, will distribute more evenly through your tresses than a paste or wax. Unless you’re able to coat your entire head of hair perfectly and evenly, avoid hair sprays—they can dry you out and aerate strands further, encouraging frizz.

best hair gel on curly hair
Define those curls with the power of hair gel.

5. Curly Hair

If you have curly hair without an afro texture or kink, your main concern should be enhancing those ringlets and maintaining shine and body throughout the day. A hair gel in a cream formulation that also imparts some gleam without heavy silicones is imperative. Bed Head by TIGI On the Rebound, a curl recall cream, reforms and springs curls back into shape with just one crunch.

best hair gel for short hair
Edgy mohawks require maximum-hold hair gel.

6. Short Hair

Short hair in need of an edge, whether via a fauxhawk, piecey texture or just all-around gritty definition, can get away with extra-hold hair gel. Before resorting to the men’s aisle for products, look for a fast-drying gel that can hold the spikiest of looks, but also be tailored to any other look you choose.

On curly and wavy textured hair, finding a product that will lock your hair in place is a big deal. You want your curls to pop and show off your gorgeous pattern. After all, your texture is what really makes the look! If your idea of a curly crop is one that’s full of defined ringlets that withstand  humidity day in and day out, try TRESemmé TRES TWO Ultra Firm Control Gel. On the other hand, if you want waves for days, try TRESemmé Make Waves Shaping Gel for bouncy waves. Those who have short, straight hair can give those pesky stray hairs some strong hold or keep your layers in check. TRESemmé TRES TWO Ultra Firm Control Gel provides strong, all-day hold sans the sticky look and feeling. No need to have a stuffy hairstyle. And if you rather go for a mussed-up, messy-but-not-so-messy hairstyle, keep your wild and cool hairdo in place.

How to Nail The Wet Effect with Hair Gel Products

Hairstyle Inspiration: Sleek Baby Bangs

Hair Gel You’ll Need: TREsemmé TRES Two Ultra Firm Control Gel

Bold bangs are a hit, but its even a bigger hit these days at shorter lengths. It’s no secret that micro bangs are back in full force, however the full and airy look is out the window for now. It seems like we’ve taken inspiration from sweaty bangs and made them a thing. Smooth some hair gel onto your fringe, separate it a bit to make it clump and create a piece-y illusion.

best hair gel with a ponytail
Keep your ponytail smooth and under control with this hairstyle idea. Photo credit:

Hairstyle Inspiration: Long Sleek Slicked Back Tresses

Hair Gel You’ll Need: Suave Professionals Firm Control Sculpting Gel

Achieving a sultry yet laid back look with the help of styling hair gel. Using a fine-tooth comb, apply some of the gel throughout your locks to evenly distribute from root to mid-shaft. Leave your ponytail gel free for an airy and light finish.

best hair gel with an updo
Half wispy, half smooth. Photo credit:

Hairstyle Inspiration: Smooth and Wispy Deep Side Part

Hair Gel You’ll Need: TREsemmé TRES Two Mega Firm Control Gel

Mix things up with a stylish half controlled, half messy hairstyle. Create a deep side part on your hair apply gel only to the front fringe and let it dry. You can give your bangs some extra detail by creating a piece-y look. Simply use the tail of a rattail comb to separate your bangs against your forehead. Once the gel dries, bangs will be set in place. While your hair is drying style the back section of your hair. First, comb or brush to remove any tangles and to position your long tresses into place, gently tease for a wispy finish.

best hair gel with sleek styles
Some like their buns neat and tight with the help of hair gel. Photo credit:

Hairstyle Inspiration: Wet Effect Updo

Hair Gel You’ll Need:  TREsemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Control Gel

Create a sleek, neat and smooth updo by applying gel to the base of your hair. You may use a brush to help smoothen out your hair, especially if you’re working with a bit of texture. Secure your updo with a hair tie and allow the gel to air-dry.

Hairstyle Inspiration: Shiny Frizz-Free Curls

Hair Gel You’ll Need: Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Curl Defining Gel Serum

For hair that’s naturally dry like curly hair, the wet look from a hair styling gel is highly favorable as dry curls often have a frizzy and parched appearance. Rake or smooth gel throughout your curls, once dry, remove the gel cast (hardened feeling on the surface of the hair) by scrunching the ends of your curls upward.

5 Things you Can Do with Hair Gel Products

best hair gel for sleek styles
Upgrade your hair easily with gel!


1. Styles your short hair.

When it comes to styling shorter cuts, hair gel for women is brilliant for achieving a variety of looks. Use it to smooth down your locks and comb it back for a sharp and slick ’80s-inspired ‘do (also big on the runways this season), or to create a more shiny, voluminous finish, try combining a gel like the TRESemmé Tres Two Mega Firm Control Gel and a hair mousse. Work this through your hair before blowdrying backwards with a brush to achieve a fairly strong hold that’ll last all day.

2. Gets rid of frizz.

If you’re struggling to tame your frizz, try some of the Suave Professioanls Luxe Style Infusion Curl Defining Gel Serum. This product works to hold onto your style that’ll help calm frizzy hair, without weighing it down, or getting flaky. Mix in the palm of your hands and apply it to your tresses before or after blow-drying to get a sleeker effect that’ll help banish pesky flyaways, too.

3. Pump up the volume.

Hair gel for women isn’t just for creating spellbinding shape and texture, they can help you achieve volume, too.

4. Create a gorgeous lacquered look.

Want to work that wet look you’ve seen so much of on the runways in real life? Well, now you can! Check out our wet hair gel guide to get this high-fashion look.

5. Work it in subtly.

Despite its strong-hold formula, hair gel doesn’t have to be the main attraction; you can also use it in less obvious ways to help style your hair to perfection. Try using it to create a smooth look with an old school hairband – keeping the front combed back and leaving the rest soft and loose – or work a tiny amount into the front of an off-center part to create a cool, small quiff. For a more casual, disheveled outcome, work it in through the lengths of your hair to create a perfectly imperfect tousled look: another fab way to get an extra day out of your hair before washing!

Looking for more tips on using some of the best hair gels? Check out our favorite wet look with gel.